First Friday Freethinkers Group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota meets this Friday.

Topic: “Morality Without God”
Nontheists (i.e., freethinkers, secular humanists and other nonbelievers) are commonly accused of being against religion but for nothing. Even Paul Kurtz, the quintessential humanist, wrote in his editorial in the April 2009 issue of Free Inquiry that the humanist movement has so far failed to construct a comprehensive nontheistic basis for ethics and morality. But experience and history tell us that none of us is justified in claiming that belief or disbelief in a supernatural deity gains one the moral high ground. The existential challenge for humans at all stages of the theistic-nontheistic spectrum is to evolve moral and ethical worldviews that can tame the shared inhumanities that threaten human future. This session will focus on claims that there may be an evolutionary, universal sense of right and wrong in the human mind that can be nurtured to supply such needed worldviews. Primary sources will be Marc Hauser’s 2006 book, Moral Minds, and Phil Zuckerman’s 2008 book, Society Without God.

Jim Craig, a member of our Church and of the First Friday Freethinkers group, will be the presenter.
When: Friday, June 5, 2009
Where: Jefferson Room at Sarasota UU, 3975 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34232
Time: 10:00 AM
Membership: Open to all
Questions: Call Tom Dente 921-1598

This time the Freethinkers will meet on THURSDAY, APRIL 30 2009. (Note the change of date. The speaker is a co-host of True Talk which airs Friday mornings on WMNF 88,5 just before Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now program. ) The group will meet at the UU Church of Sarasota, 3975 Fruitville Road in the Jefferson Room at 10 a.m., as usual. The day of the week has been changed, just for this month.

Our program presenter will be Samar-Dahmash-Jarrah. Her topic will be: “The Question of Palestine: Origins and Solutions.” She is the radio co-host of “True Talk” on WMNF 88.5 every Friday from 11 a.m. to noon. Samar teaches Geo Politics of the Middle East at the Honors College at the University of South Florida. She has traveled widely in the Middle East. She is the author of Arab Voices Speak To American Hearts. Her philosophy is illustrated by her statement: “I believe communication between peoples breaks down barriers.” Following her talk there will be a Question and Answer period and a discussion. For further information, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

The FFF has an opening on its “planning committee”. The committee meets approximately once a month to plan and organize upcoming meetings. If interested, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

From New College News:

Professor of Biology and Director of Environmental Initiatives at New College Meg Lowman, a.k.a. “Canopy Meg,” will speak at United Nations Association, Sarasota-Manatee Chapter, on March 24 at 6:00 pm. Professor Lowman will be joined by Dr. Eugenie “the Shark Lady” Clark. The event is entitled “Two Women: Two Extraordinary Scientists” and will be held at the Herald Tribune Building, 1741 Main Street, in the first floor Community Room.

For more information, please contact Catherine Seress at (941) 928-1187. Please note that searing is limited.

UUCS FreethinkersAn ex-priest, an ex-minister and an ex-nun. What do they all add up to? A Freethinker program on March 8 called “Leaving the pulpit, the confessional and the habit.”

The UUCS Freethinkers will present this special program in the Sanctuary immediately after the potluck luncheon at 12:30 p.m. It will feature Jack O’Sullivan (ex RC Priest), Richard Dewey (ex Lutheran Minister), and our own Catherine Dente (ex Sister of Mercy).

The three will participate in a panel discussion in which they will describe their journey to and from their religious callings. A question and answer session will follow their presentations. Any questions, phone Tom Dente at 921-1598.

The program will be 2 fold
Dr. Peter Duisberg will speak on The Dept. of Peace and Joyce Raby will show a DVD titled “Beyond War”

Arrive at 11:30 for lunch or 12:30 for the program only.

Directions: From Rt-41 North or South in Venice, turn East onto Central Ave. and follow till you come to Horse and Chaise Blvd. Turn left into PP and tell the gate guard that you are going to the restaurant. Continue on this road till you cross Derbyshire and into the parking lot. Park on the right – the restaurant is on the hill.

Friday, March 6, 2009 in the Jefferson Room at 10 am. — Lou Altman is featured presenter at next Freethinkers program

Lou Altman, a well known lawyer specializing in intellectual property and competition law, will be featured presenter at the next gathering of the Freethinkers. The discussion will be held Friday, March 6, 2009 in the Jefferson Room at 10 am.

Lou will report on the current activities of the atheist/humanist groups he is familiar with, and will recommend that we continue to try to achieve acceptance of our viewpoint by the theistic majority.

A member of UUCS, Altman is also director of The Humanist Institute and of the American Humanist Association, a director and executive committee member of the Humanists of Florida Association, and president of the national Society for Humanistic Judaism.

He is a named plaintiff in Michael Newdow’s lawsuit to prevent insertion of “so help me God” at the end of the the presidential oath of office. Although Newdow was unsuccessful in obtaining a preliminary injunction with respect to the Obama inauguration, the case is expected to continue in the courts in the hope of eventually affecting future inaugurations.

There will be plenty of time for questions and comments from the audience. For further information, call Tom Dente at 921-1598.

From New College News:

Sarasota, FL, March 4, 2009 — New College of Florida invites you to “feel the heat” on March 17, when the College welcomes Harvard-trained marine biologist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson to campus for a special discussion and showing of his latest movie, Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. The event, which will be held at New College’s Harry Sudakoff Center starting at 7:00 pm., is open to the public. Reservations are recommended. Tickets are $5 for the general public; free for New College faculty, students and staff with their New College ID.

Noted for his satirically critical examination of hot button scientific and environmental issues, Olson, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1984 and gave up a tenured professorship at the University of New Hampshire to attend USC and become a filmmaker, is often as critical of scientists poor communications’ skills as he is of the zealous critics of evolution and global warming who regularly make their way into the news. His film Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006 and received critical acclaim. Eventually, it was picked up by Showtime and is currently available on DVD around the world.

Olson’s most recent film, Sizzle, tackles the controversy over global warming. It premiered in July 2008 and is currently being shown at film festivals and on college campuses around the country. Its airing at New College is the only current screening in Florida.

During his visit to New College, Olson will discuss the making of Sizzle, as well as his belief that scientists and researchers must do a better job of communicating with the general public. According to Olson, the scientific community’s inability to clearly present their arguments to the public often results in too much time being wasted responding to PR campaigns waged by fringe groups and too little time actually being spent seeking solutions to critical issues facing our planet.

Olson is being brought to Sarasota by Mote Marine Laboratory, as the final guest speaker in their annual Special Lecture Series, sponsored by Robert and Jill Williams. Olson’s lecture at Mote Marine will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16, in Mote’s Immersion Cinema, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota. That lecture, on his new book Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, is open to the public. Mote also will show Olson’s award-winning film, Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus, in the Immersion Cinema throughout the weekend of March 14-15. Showings of Flock of Dodos will be free for Mote Aquarium visitors with their paid admission. For lecture seating reservations at Mote or more information, please visit or call 941-388-4441, ext. 369.

For reservations to hear Randy Olson’s talk at New College and to view his new film Sizzle on March 17, please contact New College Special Events Coordinator Greg Hite at (941) 487-4155 or email For media inquiries, please contact either Aimee Chouinard at New College of Florida (941-487-4152) or Nadine Slimak at Mote Marine (941-388-4441, ext. 417).

From the Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship:

Roger Greeley presents
An Evening With Robert Ingersoll

Monday, February 9th 7 PM
Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
322 15th St W, Bradenton

Robert Green Ingersoll was a pioneer free thinker and one of the greatest orators ever. Hear the stories from Roger Greeley’s tireless research on Ingersoll. He’ll recount some of the incredible incidents and recite some of his Most noteworthy speeches. Roger Greeley is chairman of the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee and author of “The Best of Ingersoll”.

This event is free. Roger’s book will be available for purchase.

From the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota:

Celebration Dinner to feature folksinger Meg Barnhouse

Meg will present an evening of songs & short stories.

Meg is a commentator for North Caroline public radio on a segment called “Radio Free Bubba” and has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” She will also perform at the Feb. 22 Sunday service.

Tickets will be on sale in the courtyard after church each Sunday for $8 per ticket and only $20 for a family.

New Topics New College: Charles Darwin at 200: The Concise Story of An Extraordinary Man

On Wednesday, February 4, 2009, New College will host the third lecture in the New Topics New College series.  Professor Tim Berra, professor emeritus of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at the Ohio State University, will discuss the life and legacy of Charles Darwin.  The event will take place at the Mildred Sainer Pavilion and begins at 7:00 pm. (Address: 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL, 34243 – Campus Map)Charles Darwin

Berra is the author of over 75 scientific papers and six books, including Evolution and the Myth of Creationism and A Natural History of Australia. His latest book, Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man, will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2008 and features 60 black and white illustrations and 16 color plates.

Sponsored by New College of Florida and the New College Foundation, the series pairs prominent national speakers with New College faculty for stimulating discussions on relevant topics of our time. The final program is entitled Crystal Balling the Economy” and will be held on March 11.

New Topics New College is the successor to the New College Foundation’s successful Hot Topics series, which started on campus in 2004.  The series sponsor for this year’s programming is once again U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.  The Fedder Lecture Series of the TREE Foundation is also underwriting the lecture on Charles Darwin.

You may view the complete program at

Tickets are $15.  The event is free for New College faculty, students and staff.  The For more information and to reserve tickets, contact Greg Hite, special events coordinator, at (941) 487-4155 or



Darwin cake from the event:

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